During the past few months, multiple winter storms have been responsible for one of the coldest and snowiest winters in nearly 30 years. On multiple occasions, multiple inches of snow have fallen and been accompanied with sub-freezing and on some occasions sub-zero temperatures. The frozen moisture combined with strong winds and the colder than normal temperatures have made it difficult for city street department and county highway employees to keep area roadways clear. With spring still more than 30 days away, there is a good chance snow totals could increase in the coming weeks.
The efforts of those tasked with working the roads have not gone unnoticed by city and county leaders, who have been quick to praise the efforts of both the city street and county highway departments in keeping traffic moving throughout the area. They have also praised the efforts of law enforcement and emergency response departments. However keeping the roadways clear and passable have come with a cost unlike those of recent years. Budget constraints, have reduced local and county funding in recent years while fuel and other operational cost have increased dramatically during the same time. State funding, grants and other means designed to financially assist county governments, has also seen a reduction.
According to city street department superintendent Jimmy Miller, his department has used 300 tons of sand and nearly 200 tons of salt to keep city streets passable since the first snow fall of this winter season.
“Fortunately, we (city street department) have had no major breakdowns of equipment or vehicles so far. We’ve been really lucky. The amount of sand we’ve already used this year is a lot, especially when compared to the usage the past couple of years,” Miller said.
He continued by saying that, this year, city street department workers have totalled nearly 200 hours in overtime since the winter storms arrived last fall.